Furlough – change to qualifying date
15 April 2020
The Government have today announced that the qualifying date for employees to have had to be on the payroll in order to qualify to be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been changed. Where it was previously 28 February 2020, it is now 19 March 2020 (the day before the Chancellor first announced the details of the scheme). The latest guidance about the scheme is available here.
The effect of this change is that a large number of people who recently started new jobs and were previously not able to be furloughed by their current employer, can now potentially be covered by the scheme.
However, it is important to note that it is not the start date of their employment that matters – it is the date when the employee’s ‘Real Time Information’ (RTI) was sent to HMRC. The way RTI works is that employers have to notify HMRC in “real time” of any payment made to a worker as soon as the payment is made, and then they do not need to account to HMRC for tax and NI until the 20th of the following month. Therefore, although some people have reported the most recent guidance as extending the CJRS to include those employed up to 19 March 2020, it is not necessarily clear that the latest update has that effect. The majority of employers have a payroll date of around 25th-31st of the month, and in that case no notification would have gone to HMRC for those who started employment in March until the end of that month. We hope that this point will be clarified further soon, but in the meantime we suggest taking a cautious approach until the true position is known.
If you are an employer dealing with an employment law issue involving the coronavirus, then we can help. Please call us on 01243 836840 for a no obligation chat, or email us at [email protected].